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MGG: Why A Separate Sewerage Fee?
By M.G.G. Pillai

3/9/2001 11:03 pm Mon

Why A Separate Sewerage Fee?

An interesting letter in the New Straits Times today [3 Sept 01, p12] which would never be answered: "With reference to K. Chong's letter (NST, Aug 14) on management of sewerage services, the charge for such services have been included in the assessment bills. Taman TAR, Seremban has had a central sewage collection plant since 1963 and desludging services by the local authorities have always been satisfactory. Then out of the blue, Indah Water Konsortium came into the picture, Ratepayers would appreciate a clarification by the local authority as IWK's letter threatening legal proceedings for non-payment of sewerage services is disturbing - Q.W. Goh, Seremban."

IWK cannot collect sewage fees from householders if they do not have a contract with it. IWK does not get municipal rights and privileges on acquiring a municipal service. Any question you ask of IWK comes not with an answer but a counter question: would you like your cofee made with toilet water? Or I am told water resources around the world depletes. Or even ignore the question and threaten you with legal action or touts sent to his house for that purpose. It is now 11 years since this sorry spectacle began. It was privatised to that international business man of unquestioned reputed, Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan, who never had any intention to run a sewage utility and palmed it off (with a profit, I am told, of RM1 billion). That profit, I need not add, did not go to any of his listed companies, but to one of his private ones.

In the series of transations that brought a municipal service of a state eventually into the federal government hands, none bothered to look into the legality of what IWK does. Not even when it has come back into government control. No one thought through on how the consumer whose assessments includes sewage services of his municiaplity would be made to pay afresh. The IWK decided on threats: if you did not pay its fees, water supply would be cut, the government has ordered you to pay us and you had better or else, and such. But IWK and the government forgot that a private company (and however you look at it, IWK is a private company) could not demand money from the public without a contract. And contract is what it does not have. Now, it sends threatening letters and touts to houses, the latter when only women are in the house. I have tried to get IWK to tell me the basis of their demands. Without success.

I am not surprised at this turn of events. No privatisation has succeeded. The government once said it has not business to be in business. It swallows this to say that failed privatised entities must be brought back into government hands; otherwise the people would suffer. Was this not known at the time that the privatisation could not work? Especially since it went to the cronies, courtiers and siblings of the Establishment. However you look at the international statute of that astute business man of unquestioned repute, Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan, he got IWK not because he is a sewage expert or runs sewage companies but because he has a string of titles which attest -- at least, once it did -- to his crony status. He is not so astute now, his reputation not unquestioned, but never mind.

It is, as time proves, a brilliant recipe for disaster. Which is why IWK is back in government hands. Tan Sri Dato' Seri Vincent Tan laughed all the way to the bank. And to drive home the point he is an international business man of unquestioned repute, he attempted to muzzle via the courts any who questioned his self-proclaimed status of an internationally known business man of unquestioned repute. That succeeded as brilliantly as his management of IWK and the debts his Berjaya Group ran up.

What is this man known for than run up huge debts in listed companies that should eventually qualify him for inclusion in the Malaysian book of records? And threaten with law suits any who dares question his business methods and political connexions? What has this got to do with IWK? Everything. Look at any privatised entity and the same rot is discernible. As for IWK, one should not pay any sen until IWK produces a contract you have signed with it for its services.

M.G.G. Pillai